Sam Sheppard’s star is on the rise. His 2015 album “Elaenia” picked up some notable accolades in the end of year polls and was my favourite LP of 2015.
He dropped by my friend Matt’s studio to give him a Japanese copy of the LP, complete with a lovely obi strip and Matt’s own artwork. He mentioned in conversation that he was delighted with the upward curve that his fortunes were taking.
The Brixton gig was the first night of two in London which then moved onwards around the UK. The four piece band were augmented by string and brass sections. The Electric was sold out and full to the gunwales. But boy was it noisy and not necessarily in a good way. The volume of chatter that was invasive especially for the high and lows and light and shade of the band’s set. Why do these people go to gigs?
Gradually though they were silenced as the gig developed. This was wonderful spellbinding stuff. The second track in “Silhouettes” was instantly recognisable and the crowd took off with the band. The stage set up pushed the drummer to the front of the stage. I always think that this is a really engaging and easy win for a band. So often the drummer is the most animated member of the group, so why put him at the back of the stage hidden behind a sometimes stationary guitarist or singer?
The light show was incredibly effective with laser sharp lights plotting the harmonographic patterns, leaving beautiful light traces, lingering as the music progressed. It was created with the help of Hamill Industries in Barcelona.
What was striking on the evening was the sheer quality of the musicianship on display. Sam himself displayed his chops to great effect, showing that he was as much a jazz keyboard player in the vein of the great Herbie Hancock, as opposed to just another guy with a laptop. The band ran through material that plotted a path through electronica, drum and bass, jazz and even one track that set out on a Radiohead meets Pink Floyd meets Neu, before landing back in a Portishead groove. It really was a stellar night. The music was truly moving and the intimacy of the crowd eventually added to the feeling of community.
There are some great photos from the evening over at Line Of Best Fit here.
Here’s a video of the band recorded in New York in 2015 for Thump Magazine. If you enjoy this, then you will love their album and live show. As I said earlier, it really is my favourite record of 2015 and it is still available from Rough Trade here.